Before Blake Shelton was the certified country superstar and TV personality that he is today, he was firmly at the center of mainstream country music. Riding the highs of the lead single, Honey Bee, Shelton fast-tracked the album’s release to keep the momentum that the single gained less than three months after its April release.
To say that this decision was a good one would be an understatement. Red River Blue ended up being an absolute smash for Shelton. The album topped both the Billboard US Hot Country Albums chart and the US Billboard 200 chart less than two weeks after its July 12th release.
Commercially, the runaway smash hit was Shelton’s cover of Contemporary Christian singer, Dave Barnes’ song, God Gave Me You. Being released as the second single from Red River Blue on July 25, 2011, the track flew up the charts. By October, it hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, staying there for three weeks. The song is currently certified 5x platinum by the RIAA.
In an interview with The Boot, Shelton discussed the moment he heard the song and how he was compelled to record it,
“God Gave Me You’ is an important song for me for this record. I had flown into Dallas, Texas and got into my truck and was driving back to Oklahoma … It’s no secret, Miranda and I have had our ups and downs over the years and this was definitely at a low point at our relationship. But I heard that song come on the radio — for whatever reason I was flipping through stations and landed on a contemporary Christian station, and that song came on and I almost had to pull the truck over. It was one of those moments for me where I felt like I was hearing that song at that moment for a reason. I actually got on iTunes and downloaded the song as I was driving home. I probably listened to it 20 times before I got home that day, and I called [my producer] Scott Hendricks and said, ‘Man, I found a song I want to cut.’ There was never a question, I never looked back after that. I knew it was going to be a pivotal song for the album.”
Red River Blue spawned an additional two singles, Drink On It and Over. Which, to no surprise, also went #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Though they were not quite as huge as Honey Bee and God Gave Me You, they were still two very successful releases that netted Shelton an additional two platinum certifications.
Outside of the four #1 singles, Red River Blue contains some severely underrated deep cuts from Shelton. I’m Sorry, a Chris Stapleton co-write, Sunny In Seattle and Chill (an iTunes/Apple Music bonus track) are all some of Shelton’s most overlooked and underappreciated songs in his entire discography.
Listen to Honey Bee, God Gave Me You and I’m Sorry here: